Despite strong condemnation from Mayor Marty Walsh, the City of Boston has approved permits for a “Free Speech” rally this weekend destined to attract the same white nationalist elements the “Unite the Right” rally did in Charlottesville, VA.
Event organizers met with Boston Police and city officials to work out a plan, and spokesman John Medlar says his group now has approval, and will be protected by police and physical barriers. According to Medlar, police will be escorting rally participants in and out of the event, and reserve the right to search people.
Medlar also says that the participants will not be allowed to bring weapons, or even flagpoles.
Medlar has been busy telling media that his group disavows white supremacy and the violence it brought in Charlottesville last weekend, and that they have a more diverse array of speakers. But there are signs this isn’t entirely true.
Still, the “carefully vetted” speaker lineup includes a prominent alt-right voice at the Charlottesville rally, a speaker called Augustus Invictus. Invictus is a Holocaust denier who has announced a Senate campaign this week. He’s also affiliated with the right-wing militant “Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights” group. So, in other words, Medlar’s rally in Boston is very much affiliated with Charlottesville.
There had been a previous “free speech” and Alt-Right rally in Boston in May, where ultra-nationalists and right-wing extremists tried to goad counter-protesters into violence. And naturally, white supremacy was a popular topic.
Kyle "Based Stick Man" Chapman: "They're trying to destroy western civilization, and to do that, they're going after whites." pic.twitter.com/fhnO3S2NQu
— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) May 13, 2017
When word of the rally in Boston was first spreading in the wake of Charlottesville, Walsh sternly warned the right-wing extremists from coming to Boston.
“Boston does not welcome you here. Boston does not want you here. Boston rejects your message. We reject racism, we reject white supremacy, we reject anti-Semitism, we reject the KKK, we reject neo-Nazis, we reject domestic terrorism, and reject hatred,” Walsh said. “We will do every single thing in our power to keep hate out of our city.”
In light of the agreement between organizers and city officials, Walsh has softened his tone somewhat, but was not ready to cave to outright displays of racism or hatred.
“In our city, we’ve been dealing with anticipation of what’s going to happen on Saturday. I ask everyone who comes to Boston Common on Saturday, you can have your free speech all day long, but let’s not speak about hate. Let’s not speak about bigotry, racism,” Walsh said.
— Beth Germano (@BethWBZ) August 16, 2017
This article is published in Revrepress.com